SUNBURY, Ohio (WCMH) – A person has anonymously requested the names and addresses of every student in the Big Walnut school district, and the superintendent is saying he may have no choice but to turn the information over.
Superintendent Ryan McLane announced the request at a board meeting Thursday night, saying he wanted parents and the public to know what he had been asked to provide. He followed up Friday with a letter to parents.
“No student information will be released until we are essentially forced to, and at that time, we will notify our families,” McLane wrote. “I hope it does not get to that point.”
Under FERPA, or the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, directory information may be disclosed to a third party without parental consent. McLane said at the beginning of every school year parents are given the choice to opt out of directory disclosures, but he doesn’t believe that parents could deny being part of this specific request.
“I just think about our students and the access to that information by somebody outside of our district who can’t even tell us their name,” said Annette McMurry, a parent. “Nevertheless, what they want that information for, that just rings danger. Our children are vulnerable, and it is our duty as parents and schools to protect our children.”
McLane said the request disturbs him as a parent as well as an administrator, and he is asking that those in the community reach out to lawmakers.
“We have had numerous conversations with our legal team and have contacted our local state representatives and a state senator,” he wrote parents. “This is something that absolutely needs to be fixed at the state level.”
Faced with a similar request last fall, the Tri-Valley school district in Muskingum County notified parents of the request, and the identity of the person requesting it, and gave families two weeks to pull their child’s information from the directory.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misattributed a quote to Ryan McLane instead of Annette McMurry. We apologize for the error.